Teen Suspected in Carjacking Charged as Adult

West Palm Beach Carjacking Defense Lawyer

The Palm Beach Post reported on September 29 that the West Palm Beach Police Department said a 17-year-old was being charged as an adult in a reported September 4 carjacking near Good Samaritan Medical Center. The teenager was transferred to the Palm Beach County Jail on September 27 following his September 5 arrest on allegations of armed carjacking, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest.

City police told the Post that the teenager stole a 2011 Volkswagen Jetta at gunpoint on the night of September 4 before leading police on a chase that exceeded speeds of 100 mph. A 31-year-old man told police investigators that the teenager was accompanied by a man in his 40s who climbed into the passenger seat, but the Post said the arrest report neither identified the teenager’s accomplice nor whether that person had been arrested.

The car chase ended in the area of Seventh Street and Division Avenue, according to the Post. The teenager and his accomplice got out of the vehicle and ran, but police K-9 and helicopter units canvassed the area and found the teenager hiding in the backyard of a home. The Post reported that the Volkswagen positively identified the teenager as the carjacker.

According to the post, the 17-year-old is among more than a dozen Palm Beach County juveniles to be transferred to the adult court system in the past year after being charged with carjacking.

West Palm Beach Carjacking Defense Lawyer

Minors may have their criminal cases transferred from the juvenile justice system to the adult court in the following circumstances:

  • Grand jury indictment for felony criminal offense punishable by death or life imprisonment;
  • Discretionary waiver asking juvenile court to hold hearing to determine whether child should be transferred for criminal prosecution;
  • Direct file of criminal charges in the circuit court’s criminal division whenever, in the state attorney’s “judgment and discretion,” the public interest requires it; or
  • Statutory exclusion (under Florida Statute § 985.556, any child convicted and sentenced as an adult is thereafter handled in every respect as an adult for any subsequent violation of state law).

In a 2014 report, the international non-governmental human rights organization Human Rights Watch said 98 percent of all children who ended up in the adult court system did so as the result of Florida’s direct file statute. The review found that more than 12,000 children were moved from the juvenile to adult court system in the preceding five years—more than half of whom were charged with non-violent crimes.

In 2017, State Senators Bobby Powell and Darryl Ervin Rouson co-introduced Senate Bill 192 (SB 192), which sought to limit the discretionary power prosecutors wield in charging juveniles as adults in Florida. The bills ultimately died in Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice.

The juvenile justice system is a much more preferable venue for alleged offenders because it often focuses more on rehabilitation than punishment for juvenile charges. If you or your child has been arrested for any kind of criminal offense in Palm Beach County, you will want to immediately seek the help of the experienced Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell.

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